By Nicole Parmenter, Dietetic Intern for FitNutrition, LLC and Providence College Athletics with Katie Jeffrey, MS, RD, CSSD
As we close out one year and ring in the next, by now I’m sure many of you have made your resolutions for the New Year. Smoking cessation, weight loss, joining a gym and eating more veggies are among the most popular resolutions but what about being good to your bones? In light of National Milk Day, on January 11, it’s time to shine some light on the benefits of milk!
Milk is a great source of calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus and other trace minerals, all of which support bone health. “Calcium, the major nutrient needed to form new bone cells, is vital for bone health. Your bones store more than 99 percent of the calcium in your body” says Brian Sarna, of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The remaining 1% is used for muscle and vascular contraction and dilation. On average, most adults need at least 1,000 mg per day, but calcium needs change with age. Excellent sources of calcium are dairy products and fortified nondairy beverages such as soy, almond and rice milks as well as fortified orange juice. Green leafy vegetables and fortified tofu and cereals as well as beans, oranges, kiwi and almonds are good sources of calcium but nowhere near the amounts contained in dairy products.
Vitamin D is also vital for bone health because it facilitates the absorption of calcium into our bones and teeth. It also regulates the amount of calcium that circulates in our blood and is important in the prevention of bone loss. Adults should strive for at least 600 IU (15mcg) of vitamin D daily. Good sources of vitamin D include sunlight, oily fish, dairy products and fortified juices and cereals.
Everyday our bones experience constant wear-and-tear; cells break down bone tissue and need a steady supply of foods rich in calcium and vitamin D to build new bone. The USDA recommends approximately 2 to 3 servings of dairy per day (or the equivalent) to reach adequate calcium and vitamin D levels. If you are not able to consume dairy products, alternative milks, fortified foods and supplements are available. Consult with a registered dietitian to find the best way to meet your calcium and vitamin D needs.
Innocenzi, Lauren. “Vitamin D.” Eat right. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 5 Jan. 2015.
Sarna, Brian. “Understanding Osteoporosis.” Eat right. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 5 Jan. 2015.
Sund, Erin. “Calcium.” Eat right. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 14 May 2013. Web. 5 Jan. 2015.